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Archive for March, 2009

wwheat2

We cut open the Applegate Farms, Oven Roasted Turkey Breast on Friday and the consensus was that it tasted like actual turkey and that is was awesome.  We sell a ton of turkey in the restaurant so I was really concerned that we might not like the new product.  With very few antibiotic-free, sustainable and humanely-raised options available in bulk packaging my quest for better meat could have been stopped dead cold.  Fortunately this is not the case!

We will crack open the ham and the salami this week, but I know they taste great because I have purchased them both at Whole Foods in retail packaging!  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to offer sustainable, hormone and antibiotic free, humanely-raised meats at Dish.  As far as I can tell there is not another sandwich place in a 200 mile radius doing anything like we are!

We were also excited because we are now using Niman Ranch bacon.  Niman Ranch, though Bill Niman is gone, still has one of the best hog raising standards in the country.  I’m happy to say we are taking a large amount of $$ out of the factory farmed animal side of things and this is only the beginning.

A couple of other notes to put out there.  HBO is running a new documentary called Death on a Factory Farm.  I suggest you take a look at it.  It starts next week

I’ve mentioned before an organization that labels products with the Certified Humane logo.  Here is their up-to-date listing of producers across the US with links to each company’s website!

Okay so on to bread.  I purchased the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes per day last year and I love it.  We have made a ton of bread out of the book and the only time it didn’t turn out perfect was when I forgot how much flour I measured into the bucket and guessed wrong!

I would go out and buy this book if you like bread, you want to make your own and you don’t want to spend hours managing the process.  It’s incredibly easy and the results are great.  In fact when I made the honey whole wheat bread I took a loaf to work and all the employees thought it was great.  No easy task with a bunch of foodies!

So take a look at the below recipe, get the book to get all the exact details!

Oh and you can visit Zoe Francois’ (one of the authors of the book) blog to get more details – http://www.zoebakes.com

wwheat1

No Knead Honey Whole Wheat Bread- (makes 5 one-pound loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
  • 6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

Warm the water and milk to about 100 degrees. Add the yeast, honey, oil and the salt to the water in a 5 or 6 quart, resealable, lidded plastic food container.  You can pick these up at Resco or Smart and Final or other restaurant type food service places.

Now add all of the flour at once.  Mix with a wooden spoon, stand mixer with a dough hook, or a food processor fitted with a dough hook attachment.  You are done when everything is uniformly moist with no dry areas.  Should take no longer than a few minutes.

Cover with a lid, not airtight and allow to rise until it starts to flatten on the top or begins to collapse.  Should be about two hours.  Do not use mason jars with a lid or anything airtight…it could explode. Put the dough in the refrigerator overnight or for at least three hours.

I tried to make it in a loaf pan and didn’t put enough dough so experiment as you see fit.  I like the free-form loaves the best so I haven’t tried it again in the pan.

On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent it from sticking when you slide it into the oven.

Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a grapefruit size piece of dough.  Hold the dough, flour your hands if you need to.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  You are forming a round ball of dough. The bottom side will be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out during baking. The top will be mostly smooth and cohesive.

Rest the loaf on the pizza peel for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the loaf, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a baking stone place on the middle rack and a empty metal roasting pan or broiler tray for holding water on the shelf below.

Dust the bread with flour and then slice about 1/8 of an inch slashes into the bread.  You can do them in any pattern you see fit.

After the 20-minute preheat, open the oven. Slide the bread onto the stone. Quickly pour 1 cup of hot water into the roasting pan or broiler tray, shut the door and bake for about 60 minutes until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Dot not open the oven or the steam will escape. The steam helps make the crust.

Allow to cool on a wire rack and then eat it!

Store the rest of the dough in your lidded, not airtight, container in the refrigerator up to 14 days!

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pot3

I’ve been busy to say the least.  Busy gaining weight, busy eating a ton of food… good and bad, busy trying to learn as much as I can about factory farming, busy trying to start a Slow Food chapter in Reno and busy trying to overhaul the kinds of meat products we are using at Dish.

Let me tell you, it is not easy to source humanely-raised, antibiotic-free, hormone-free meats.  My normal distributor doesn’t carry any of the brands I was looking for.  Well, wait, they do carry them, but the price is triple what we are paying now for ham, roast beef, turkey, bacon and salami.

So I moved on to our secondary distributor and called them.  They didn’t have anything!  Both of these companies are national and the leaders in their industry, but they carry very few organic and pretty much no humanely-raised options of any kind.  Blah… supply and demand I suppose!

I was starting to really get panicked until I thought of calling another company out of Sacramento that services Reno.  They came through… In fact today we received our first shipment of humanely-raised, antibiotic and hormone-free turkey, ham and salami as well as Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon.  We also are now getting our eggs through  a farm that lets their chickens run around on natural ground with sunlight on their backs!

As for sourcing meats for my home, well that’s a bit more problematic.   None of the supermarkets in town carry anything on the pork side that is even close to humanely raised.  I’ve called quite a few places and have met with everything from laughs to surprise that I would want to buy humanely-raised meats.  What are you supposed to do?

We fortunately have a Whole Foods in town, so I have started to buy anything pork-related from them.  I’ve also looked up all the local farms within 100 miles and have contacted a few of them who raise beef and pigs.  Our plan is to visit each of them to see how they are raising their animals and then put together a group of people to purchase the meat!  I challenge you to do the same thing.  Yes it costs more, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I will just eat half as much meat as I did before!

So the good news is we are starting to make a difference.  Actually based on the amount of meat we use, I would say we are making a huge difference.

So on to Pot Roast.  I found this recipe in Gourmet Magazine a few months back and instantly had to make it.  It was super simple, but included a huge amount of caramelized onions.  Since I started cooking I’ve had quite a bit of a problem really caramelizing onions well.  Either I don’t cook them long enough or I burn the crap out of them.  So keep your eyes on them and don’t walk away for long!

This is the perfect weekend night dinner before the temperatures start heading into the 80s and 90s and a steaming pot of meat doesn’t sound so great!

pot21

Super Rad Pot Roast

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb onions
  • 1 – 5 pound, grass fed, boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 2 (12-oz) bottles beer
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Pat beef dry and season all over with 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide 5- to 6-qt heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown beef on all sides, about 15 minutes, then transfer to a plate.

Cook onions with bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt in remaining tablespoon oil in pot, scraping up brown bits from bottom and stirring occasionally, until onions are well browned, about 25 to 35 minutes.  Add beer and vinegar to onions and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Add beef and meat juices from plate and return to a boil.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle. Cut a round of parchment paper the diameter of the inside of pot (near the top).

Cover with parchment round and lid and braise in oven until meat is very tender when pierced in several places with a meat fork, about 4 1/2 hours.

Transfer beef to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered, 20 minutes. Cut off string, then slice meat. Skim off fat from sauce and discard bay leaves.

Serve braised beef with onions and sauce and devour!

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Humanely Raised Meats

Pigs Across America

Things have been going well for us at the restaurant and at home.  Business has still been strong so far this year and sales are up for the first two months over last year!  Hurray for that.

As for me, well I haven’t been working out, or blogging.  I have been cooking on and off and reading.  I just finished two books that have turned my whole life upside down.  The first, which was the start of it, is “Meat“, by Fearnley-Whittingstall and the other, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen.

Both books were excellent.  But “Meat” was what started my new found desire to eat only humanely raised animals. If you are not aware, and you are probably not, 99% of all pigs in the United States are raised indoors, and for a large portion of their life, they are unable to turn around, root in the ground or do anything at all that resembles normal pig behavior.  Worse yet, pigs are one of the most intelligent animal species and are smarter than dogs and resemble the intelligence of a three-year-old child.

I’m not going to post the picture of what their confinement looks like, but if you are interested take a look by clicking here.

I’ve had a very hard time with this for the past three weeks.  I’ve always been interested in animal rights and have donated money to many charities, but over the past three weeks I’ve spent hours and hours reading about factory farming of animals in the United States and can tell you I have cried, been pissed off and overall just plain sick to my stomach.

So what have I done? Well first off I’m not buying meat for our home, nor will I have any meat in my home that comes from Factory Farms.  No more frozen pizza with pepperoni on it, no more ribs, bacon, chicken, etc. from the supermarket.

I’m buying all my meat from Whole Foods because they have the highest standards currently in any type of grocery store model, and I’m looking into purchasing a partial cow and partial pig for my home freezer.  I’m calling local farmers and visiting their farms to see how they take care of their animals.  We have always bought free-range organic eggs and I couldn’t imagine buying battery caged eggs.

As for the restaurant we have always used organic free-range eggs and I just tonight have sourced humanely raised deli ham meat, as well as bacon and salami.  This is where I will start and will expand from there.  Let me also say this is so important to me that I will personally be eating all of the increased cost for this humanely raised, antibiotic free meat.

pigfly

I’ve been working very hard to understand all the ins and outs of organic meats as well as humanely raised meats so please share with me your experiences or questions.

Here are some resources if you are interested in finding out more about this:

Applegate Farms – Humanely raised meats

Niman Ranch – They started it all

Animal Welfare Approved – program and food labelthat promote the well-being of animals and the sustainability of humane family farms

Slow Food USA

Local Harvest – Get connected to a local farmer in your area

Eat Wild – Another site to find local farms

Farm Sanctuary – Non Profit Organization dedicated to saving animals

The Humane Society of the US

My Local and Humanely Raised Facebook page

So I will be back to posting recipes soon.  You might not see as many with meat as my plan will include spending much more for it, so I will enjoy it more and eat it less!

Thanks all!

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